Winning Philadelphia student essays: ‘Fully fund my education because …’

     Still image from the winning high school video by Xue Yao Zou, 10th grade, Central High School.

    Still image from the winning high school video by Xue Yao Zou, 10th grade, Central High School.

    The “Students Speak” campaign encouraged students across the Philadelphia School District to submit written and video essays that completed the sentence: “Fully fund my education because …” The winning entries, announced Thursday, appear here.

    The Philadelphians most affected by the city’s school funding crisis are without a doubt the nearly 200,000 district and charter school students. We talk about the students all the time, but how often do we talk to the students?

    In order to give them a voice in the public discussion, Mayor Michael Nutter, Superintendent William Hite and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan announced in April an essay competition called “Students Speak.”

    The campaign encouraged students across the city to submit written and video essays that completed the sentence: “Fully fund my education because …” The winning entries, announced Thursday — a written essay and a video from elementary, middle and high school levels — appear here.

    High school winners

    Fully fund my education because it is my right to have one. I have the right to knowledge, and I have the right to learn about the world and what is happening in it. I have the right to know of all the hate and misery that is in our world, but I also have the right to gain the tools that I need to change that.

    Fully fund my education because I am a young Latina, and we live in a world where the odds are always against the favor of myself and those just like me.

    Fully fund my education because I want to be a leader, and I want to be a leader without having to be looked down upon because I am female and a Latina. I feel and see the problems that are happening in my community firsthand, and I know how to go about fixing them.

    Fully fund my education because I deserve to have a voice, especially when young girls like me seldom have one in today’s society. I have bright eyes and a big mind, and my opinions and thoughts do matter.

    Fully fund my education because I come from a background of adversity. My father passed away when I was 6 years old, and my single mother has struggled for a long time to support me and my brother. No matter what I went through, my mother always told me that education was the key to success. I make sure to study hard every day, and I make sure that I don’t come home to my hard-working mother with anything other than a great grade.

    Fully fund my education because I go to school in a city where violence is on every block. My classmates and I risk our lives every day to come to school on public transportation, but we still get up in the morning because we want an education.

    Fully fund my education because I am strong, determined, and persevering. I know what it’s like to be a shy, insecure girl, but when I want something, I go and get it.

    Fully fund my education because I am a dreamer, and I have only dreamt when I was in class learning. I want to see the world and everything it has to offer, and I can only do that with an education.

    Fully fund my education because I am not the only one who deserves it, and because I am not the only one who knows that.

    Fully fund my education because students, especially those who are dedicated and intelligent but come from underprivileged backgrounds, deserve an education.

    Fully fund my education because having an education means having a voice, and when we have the money to get an education so that we can become lawyers, doctors, journalists, and teachers, we will look back to those who gave us that education and we will forever be grateful to those who gave us a voice.

    by Sarah Santiago (grand prize winner)10th grade, Esperanza Academy Charter School

    by Xue Yao Zou10th grade, Central High School

    Middle school winners

    Fully fund my education because the students of Philadelphia deserve a high-quality learning experience. Philadelphia schools are currently deprived of crucial essential needs in the average school life. Schools are lacking money that is needed to enhance the schools’ quality and to take students places. There is barely any money for the school district to buy school buses, which leads children to take public transportation. The city of Philadelphia is already poor and dangerous in a sense, and public transportation isn’t a safe place for a child to have to get to and from school. Fully fund our schools so that thousands of students can have a better school life and get an amazing education!

    I attend Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School/String Theory High School, which is an Apple distinguished performing arts school. Every student receives an iPad in this school, which is extremely convenient. In life currently, technology is becoming a dominant force in the world. We use technology to communicate, travel, learn, discover and so much more! This school allows its student a great insight into technology which is useful for when we will have to use technology for about everything as we get older. Overall, our school isn’t horrible; in fact, it is beneficial. But, our school does need money to make improvements.

    To start off, my school doesn’t have the money for a middle school gymnasium. Today, our nation is struggling with obesity. Obesity is increased body weight caused by excessive accumulation of fat. Gym should be required so that the obesity rate in students can be reduced. Furthermore, it completes social skills and teamwork, and it gives students a break from working while exercising their mind at the same time. The high schoolers that go to this school have a gym; however, it is only a small room that doesn’t have the proper equipment that a gym needs.

    In addition, the school district doesn’t provide school buses for our school, only transpasses, which is risky. It is dangerous because students have to cross busy intersections to get to the school building. Due to budget cuts, my school had to pay for their own buses, which caused for a lot of money to be used that could have been used on different things for the students. I live in the West Oak Lane area, and there weren’t any buses that went this far from the school. As a result, I have to either take public transportation or get picked up by a parent.

    Philadelphia has great schools, but it needs money to be the best that it can be. And every school should be the best that it can be. Funding Philadelphia schools would be helpful to numerous amounts of people!

    by Synia Boyer, 7th gradePhiladelphia Performing Arts Charter School/String theory Middle School

    by Shane Boyle7th grade, Greenberg Elementary School

    Elementary school winners

    Fully fund my education because it is not fair that other school districts get more money than my school district. My parents pay for lots of things, like higher taxes for education. I am going to explain three reasons for investing in public education, why it helps the children, the economy and the democratic society.

    Investing in public education benefits children because children/students who attend schools with smaller class sizes than schools with overcrowded classrooms get more teacher attention and will be able to graduate with an opportunity for a job or go to college.

    Another way investing in public education benefits children is over-crowded-classrooms makes for bad behavior with the students. Students who need more attention than other students are not able to get it because there is an overcrowded classroom and too many students for one teacher to support.

    Investing in public education benefits the economy for better job opportunities. People who have not received the proper education and did not graduate from high school are not able to get a job and support the economy by paying taxes for a better school district. Students, who received the proper education graduate from high school, go on to college and find jobs. Poorly educated students are unable to find jobs and don’t know how to find a job. Investing in public education benefits the democratic society because teachers educate and prepare students for the responsibilities of society. Investing in the public school system will lead to a lower crime rate and less people in prison. Founding fathers supported the need for public education. Educated people lead our country, make important decisions and solve problems. Without the proper funding the public school system will fail. Teachers are a very important part of the public education. These are my reason why I feel it is very important to fully fund public education.

    by Mackenzie Weiler4th grade, Greenberg Elementary

    by Lucas Beltran3rd grade, Cook-Wissahickon School

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